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DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Level up

Written by Li-Ann Chin, associate 
Edited by Malcolm Robertson, founding partner
8 October 2020

Good morning,

Boris Johnson’s speech at the Conservatives Party Conference suggests that the prime minister’s team remains committed to the themes outlined during his early weeks in power, such as the ‘levelling up’ agenda.
 
And yet, a recent publication from the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) presents a challenge to this narrative. Asserting that a faster 5G rollout is an essential tool in driving a stronger UK recovery and ‘levelling up’ the regions, the report delivers an ominous prediction that the stalling delivery of 5G infrastructure will potentially result in more than 11 million households and businesses missing out on vital digital connectivity by 2027, costing the UK over £41 billion in lost opportunity.
 
Meanwhile, rankings published by analyst house Omidia show that the UK has fallen one position with regards to 5G deployment, claiming seventh place in 2020. The results also indicate that Switzerland has maintained its position as the top country in Europe, while South Korea remains the global leader in 5G progress. Indeed, according to the CPS report, the difference between the UK being a leader and a laggard in 5G adoption could amount to as much as £173bn in incremental GDP over the coming decade.
 
In a demonstration of confidence in the long-term potential of the UK’s digital economy, Liberty Global and Telefónica’s have recently unveiled their plans to invest £10 billion into accelerating the national 5G rollout and ensuring that 5G services will be available in 100 UK towns and cities by the end of 2021. Adding to this, they plan to expand their gigabit-capable network to reach an extra one million premises within a year of the merger closing, and to then connect a further seven million homes. The combination of gigabit broadband speeds and new 5G mobile is expected to revolutionise all sectors, especially in manufacturing, healthcare and transport.
 
This undoubtedly comes as good news for boosting digital infrastructure in the UK. And yet, significant barriers to deployment remain. Alex Jackman and Nick King, former government advisors and authors of the CPS report are calling for urgent reforms to the Electronic Communications Code in accelerating the UK’s rollout of 5G, as onerous planning rules and loopholes in the existing legislation hinder progress. Without such efforts, the UK stands to miss its 2025 deadline for gigabit connectivity and 2027 target for 5G coverage, they caution.
 
With yet another report published today by the defence committee, backing the creation of the Telecomms Security Bill, which would seek to place national security considerations ahead of commercial concerns, one thing seems clear: for Britain to ‘level up’, sustained public sector leadership in creating a conducive deployment environment needs to be stepped up in equal measure.

News

First minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland are to be closed under new measures aimed at tackling a surge in coronavirus cases. The new rules, which will be in force from 18:00 on Friday until 25 October, apply to licensed premises across the central belt, including Glasgow and Edinburgh. Pubs and restaurants will be able to open in other parts of Scotland – but can only serve alcohol outdoors
 
In northern England, pubs and restaurants are speculated to be closed within days as concern mounts about rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions. Ministers are reportedly holding discussions about introducing further restrictions amid fears that hospitals could be overwhelmed if they do not act. (£)
 
Mike Pence and Kamala Harris clashed over Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during their vice-presidential debate yesterday, with the Democratic challenger accusing the president of “the greatest failure” in the history of the office. The debate remained civil but both vice-presidential candidates sidestepped many questions. (£)

Business and economy

David Frost has indicated that Britain was willing to discuss commitments on state-aid policy in the future partnership that would “go further than you normally do in a free trade agreement”. His comments suggest an openness to at least try to address the EU’s core demands in the negotiations that both sides sign up to level playing field commitments on the use of subsidies.
 
Stansted Airport is set to cut nearly 400 jobs following a sharp drop in passenger numbers amid a second wave of the pandemic. The airport’s owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), confirmed it will begin discussions with unions on proposals to reduce employee costs at Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands airports.
 
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and PwC’s latest industry survey, sentiment among finance firms rose nine per cent in the three months to the end of September as business volumes showed signs of stabilising following the initial shock of the coronavirus crisis.

Columns of note

My younger brother will begin his first year of university this autumn. Amid the pandemic, he has chosen to fly 6,000 miles from Malaysia to the UK to embark on this journey – for better or worse. I cannot help but worry for his physical and emotional wellbeing. In The GuardianJoanna Moorhead highlights how confining students in halls, leaving them isolated and friendless, is a mental health crisis in the making.
 
By 2030, the UK will produce enough wind from offshore sources to power every home in the land. That was the pledge Boris Johnson made to the Conservative Party Conference earlier this week. In City A.MEliot Wilson highlights that for the UK to meet its ambitious targets, it must encourage and host much bigger ESG projects and attract greater investment – multiple billions of pounds in technology and infrastructure.

Cartoon source: Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The S&P 500 gained 1.7% to 3,419.45, as of 4:07pm New York Time after a barrage of overnight tweets from President Donald Trump advocating a piecemeal approach. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.9% to 28,303.46, the highest in five weeks on the biggest rise in 12 weeks. The FTSE 100, on the other hand, closed flat once again, with an increasing sense on inertia taking hold on European markets.
 
Sterling dipped as Brexit tensions grow while the Euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1763. The Japanese yen depreciated 0.3% to 105.99 per dollar, the weakest in almost four weeks.
 
The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased five basis points to 0.79%, the highest in almost four months. Britain’s 10-year yield rose two basis points to 0.303%, the highest in more than five weeks.
 
In terms of commodities, gold strengthened 0.5 percent to $1,887.65 an ounce while copper climbed 2.1% to $3.03 a pound, the highest in a week.

In company news: 

Greene King has announced that it expects to cut up to 800 jobs and shut dozens of pubs after warning that ministers’ 10pm curfew has trashed the hospitality industry. 

Google faced sceptical questioning from US Supreme Court justices yesterday over its claim that code it copied from rival Oracle is not protected by copyright. 

BDO may be forced to bail out its Spanish sister company which has been slapped with a €126.8m (£115m) over its role in an accounting scandal. BDO was among those convicted by Spain’s highest criminal court for its involvement in falsifying the accounts of fishing firm Pescanova between 2010 and 2012. 

What’s happening today?

Finals
Volution Group PLS

AGMs
Artemis Alpha
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

UK economic announcements
(00:01) RICS Housing Market Survey

Int economic announcements
(07:00) Current Account (GER)
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

In the early 20th century, celery was the third most popular item on New York menus, after coffee and tea.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
International Trade (including Topical Questions)
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg
 
Backbench Business
Planning reform and house building targets in relation to the White Paper – Bob Seely
 
Spending of the Department for Digital, Culture and Media and Sport on support measures for the DCMS sectors during and after the covid-19 pandemic – Julian Knight, Kevin Brennan
 
Adjournment
Universal Service Obligation for broadband – Edward Timpson

House of Lords 

Introduction
Baroness Fox of Buckley and Baroness Fleet
 
Oral questions
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income families with children and support provided by the social security system – Baroness Sherlock
United Nations arms embargo on the government of Iran – Lord Polak
Vacancies for GPs in the NHS for England in July and comparable figures for five, and 10, years previously – Lord Clark of Windermere
 
Legislation
Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – report stage – Lord True

Scottish Parliament 

First Minister’s Questions
 
Portfolio Questions
 
Ministerial Statement
Shaping Scotland’s Economy: Scotland’s Inward Investment Plan
NHS remobilisation

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